£100m for ACE - but it'll take three years
More details have been released about the extra £100m for the arts promised by Culture Secretary Chris Smith last week. The extra money will be delivered in increments: £15m in 2000-2001, £45m in 2001-2002 and, finally, the remaining £40m in 2002-2003. However, in spite of what was said at the time, this is not new money and not a response to "The Next Stage".
The first £15m was part of the last comprehensive spending review (1999) and £40m of the rest (£15m in 2002-2003 and £25m in 2003-2004) is already earmarked for twelve "creative partnerships" which will bring together school children and arts groups in deprived areas.
This will leave £45m (£30m in 2002-2003 and £15m in 2003-2004) of additional money to be spent on all of the arts, and ACE's strategy to save regional theatre (The Next Stage) is based on £25m being available in 2000-2001.
The government has accepted Dome Europe's bid of £105m for the Millennium Dome when it closes at the end of this year. Backed by Japanese bank Nomura, the consortium will spend £800m to turn the Dome into a massive amusement park with hotels, offices, shops and homes nearby.
It is understood that £50m of the money will be used to keep the Dome open until the end of the year. It had been calculated that, without a massive increase in admissions, the Dome would run out of money by early September and, without an additional cash injection, would have to close then.
Weston must resign, Welsh Tories say
Opposition culture spokeman in the Welsh Assembly, Jonathan Morgan, has called for the resignation of the Welsh Arts Council's chief executive Joanna Weston and an end to the "culture of arrogance" at the heart of the quango. This should happen immediately, he said, before "calls for the Council's abolition become deafening."
Morgan was speaking in the wake of ACW's victory in the libel case brought against it by Chapter Arts Centre artistic director Janek Alexander, which Independent Theatre Council diector Charlotte Jones described as a "terribel waste of public money". The case should never had gone to court, Jones said, as all the defendant wanted was a formal apology. The decision to allow the case to go ahead - and to spend £250,000 of ACW's finances defending it - dismayed and appalled the ITC and its members.
ATG takes over at RichmondThe Ambassador Theatre Grouip has reached an agreement with the London Borough of Richmond council to run the Richmond Theatre, which has been in danger of closing because of its failure to be able to pay the bank loan which enabled it to reopen after closing in 1989 on the grounds of health and safety.
Spacey looks for angels
American actor Kevin Spacey is to act as a consultant for a new production company, Old Vic Productions, a re-launch of Criterion Productions, set up in 1993. Criterion has invested in thirty plays since then and almost half, including The Graduate and The Weir have been profitable.
According to Sally Greene, chief executive, the new company will "invest in a range of productions - we'll be co-producing The Car Man for instance - so that our risk is spread. At the moment 'angels' put their money in one production and if it goes they lose their money."
As well as general investment, the new company will aim to set up a kind of rep company for the Old Vic, with former Royal Court director Stephen Daldry in charge, says Spacey, who wants to return to the theatre where he won his Olivier Best Actor award for The Iceman Cometh in 1998.
"I've got four films to do first," he said, "but as soon as I finish them I want to get my butt back on that stage where it belongs. There's a lot of people I'd love to act alongside. I'd love to do a comedy with Sam Mendes directing."